Jennifer Hevelone-Harper (2007)

On days like this, when you look around the room, you are reminded that the history of the Church is the story of many generations.  Today we have gathered—as grandparents, parents and siblings, as friends and relatives of all ages—to celebrate a new class of graduates who will shape the future of Church.  In many ways, the history of Christianity is the story of how, for two thousand years, the faith has passed from one generation to another.

This year’s Junior Distinguished Faculty Award winner has already achieved a fine reputation as an interpreter of Christianity’s multigenerational heritage.  When she was a student herself at Gordon College, she was an enthusiastic learner—an A.J. Gordon Scholar who completed a year of study at our program in Oxford, England.  The road from Gordon took her eventually to Princeton, where she completed her Ph.D., writing a dissertation on church history.  That dissertation developed into her first book, Disciples of the Desert, a study of monks and laity in late antiquity, published by Johns Hopkins University Press.  As a scholar, she has also become a specialist in the High Middle Ages and the Middle Byzantine history, and her newest book project recounts Christian history for church study groups and lay audiences.

 When she returned to Gordon to assume a faculty post, she quickly became a leader among a new generation of faculty, soon stepping into the role of chair of the history department and speaking often in chapels, forums and convocations.  Just last fall she was one of the featured panelists in Gordon’s trialogue, a conversation between Christian, Jewish and Islamic scholars.  Among her students she receives impressive reviews for her excitement about the study of Christian history, her wide knowledge and intelligence, and her encouragement and counsel.  She infuses her work with a joyful sense of discovery and a genuine love for God’s people, both past and present.

This story of generations comes with a special sense of promise and anticipation today, since our recipient expects, very soon, to give birth to her third child.  So we are grateful that she made an extra effort to be here this morning.  Please join me in congratulating the recipient of the Junior Distinguished Faculty Award, associate professor of history Dr. Jennifer Hevelone-Harper.